Monday, January 14, 2013

Thunder Birds (1942)



I have a thing for aviation-themed films. If you have been following my blog for time you may know this piece of info already. When I found out that the ever gorgeous and talented Gene Tierney was in a film called Thunder Birds and that it dealt with aviation I had to see it. I did not know what the story was about before I watched it. I should have known Tierney would barely be in the film but that does not matter when you get to see her in Technicolor.
            The Thunder Birds are a flying squadron in America. The base in Arizona trains American, British, and Chinese aviators. Steve Britt (Preston Foster) is an aviator looking for a job training pilots. He knows Captain MacDonald and asks for a job. MacDonald cannot understand why Steve would want to teach when he could be fighting.
            Steve knows a man named Col. Cyrus Saunders who has a ranch not too far from the base. He flies one of the planes to the ranch. First he teases Saunders’ granddaughter Kay (Tierney) as she takes a swim in the water tower. Steve and Kay have a history together. He still loves her and she seems not to want to think about it.
            A new group of British soldiers comes to train. One of the soldiers is a man named Peter Stackhouse. Steve knew Peter’s father when they served in the First World War before he was shot down. Peter does not do too well in training. All three times he has gone up he has gotten sick. Steve talks to Peter about doing something else for the war effort. Peter tells him he does not want to do anything else. His brother was shot down on a mission and he wants to fly a bomber like his brother. Peter’s fear of heights comes from when he was younger and he fell off a horse.
            Peter and his fellow British soldier Lockwood go to a shop in town looking for stocking for his grandmother and Lockwood’s mother. They run into Kay in the shop. Over time Kay comes to love Peter. Steve loves her but she does not love him like she used to. Peter asks Kay to marry him.
            Steve and Kay believe that Peter can become an aviator. With Steve’s help he passes his tests.
            The cast not bad. Gene Tierney is the only reason to sit through the film. She looks outrageously gorgeous in Technicolor. Her eyes were so beautifully blue. I thought this was actually one of her best acted films she was perfect. This is the third Preston Foster film I have seen. I like him he was good. I wish Kay would have wound up with Steve, Foster and Tierney looked nice together.
            William Wellman was no stranger to making aviation themed films. One of Wellman’s most famous films is the classic 1927 silent Wings. Just as in his silent film Wellman got great shots of the planes in the air and aerial views.
            Thunder Birds is an alright film. As I said it is worth watching primarily for Gene Tierney in Technicolor. As much as I like Tierney there was no need her character to be in the film Kay threw the whole main story out of wack. I guess the studio though they needed a woman thrown in with all the masculinity to get women to come see it. I liked seeing all the airplanes. I enjoy reading about aviation/aviators from the 1930s and 1940s. Thunder Birds is available to view on Youtube if you are interested in seeing the film.